Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is one of the Oscar-nominated short films for 2018, capturing the inspiring story of Mindy Alper. Via Short of the Week:
Frank Stiefel’s Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is a quintessential artist profile—there are thousands of similar films on Vimeo, roughly following the same kind of emotional and narrative arc, and utilizing similar techniques. Yet each story is unique, and the confluence of subject and filmmaker still proves the possibility of making any individual film exceptional.
A rare dual-winner of the both the Jury and Audience prize at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 is certainly one of those exceptional films. A moving portrait of the artist Mindy Alper, the film’s director, Frank Stiefel, finds her on the cusp of an important gallery showing of her art, and gives Alper room to reflect on her life’s journey through profound mental illness. Inspiring in moments, but gut-punchingly devastating in others, Alper relates to us a childhood filled with debilitating anxiety, exacerbated by an emotionally abusive father and a distant mother. From there things spiral downward into a stint in a mental hospital in her late 20’s, followed by frequent episodes where, for months at a time, she lost her ability to speak. Through it all she expresses appreciation for the mentors who’ve encouraged her art, and for the ever-tenuous peace she is occasionally able to attain.